Oberhof 2023 was a fantastic event with big crowds and competitions in almost all possible weather conditions. Two weeks of drama showed how things in biathlon can always turn around on any given day. JT Boe was the undisputed King of Oberhof 2023. His mission of winning all seven available medals started with a Gold in the Mixed relay and ended with a Bronze in the Mass start. He has been competing on a different level than the rest of the field since the start of the season in Kontiolahti. His skiing prowess has been known for a long time, but I have never - not even with Martin Fourcade or Ole Einar Bjoerndalen - seen anybody so mentally strong in biathlon as Johannes is in 2022/2023. Hanna Oeberg found a streak of great form just in time to showcase her talent and determination, shared with the rest of her Swedish teammates, to peak at the most significant events.
Marketa Davidova travelled to Oberhof as the World champion in the Individual. It was always to be a complex Championship for her with all the expectations put on her shoulders. The Men’s relay was the most exciting competition from the Czech perspective. Our athletes were in the leading group - or leading - for three-quarters of the race. It was a priceless experience for them, which can only help them in a year when Nove Mesto hosts the World championships.
The first World cup week after the highlight - the Olympic Winter Games or the BMW IBU World Championships - is always tricky as the most successful athletes need to find new sources of motivation. That can be hard. I expect Johannes to continue his dominance of the men’s field, but there will be plenty of room for new athletes on the podiums and a terrific chance for Czech athletes to use the advantage of crowd support. Marketa has shown us some great races this season, and it would be great to see her thrive in Nove Mesto. Sure, she will have to rival Julia Simon, the Oeberg sisters, Lisa Vittozzi, Dorothea Wierer, and Denise Herrmann-Wick - the most potent athletes - but you can’t be number 8 in the Total Score, as is Marketa, without being consistently good. Her shooting times and accuracy are on a high level, too.
Tomas Mikyska has impressed me with his mental stability this season. We know each other well as we trained together in Letohrad. I knew his qualities, and he is having a breakthrough this winter. His shooting in the relays was exceptional. The fact that he qualified for the Mass start in Oberhof 2023 and finished 14th speaks for his potential and a promising future for the Czech biathlon.